The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday passed a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for nearly 60,000 city workers, including police officers and firefighters, that does not include an option for regular testing.
Other major cities, states, corporations, health care systems, and the federal government have all adopted different vaccine regulations. But many, including New York City’s, let people skip the shots as long as they’re regularly tested for the coronavirus.
The Los Angeles rule, and one recently announced for much of Seattle’s municipal workforce, removes that option. Los Angeles only allows medical or religious exemptions.
The Los Angeles vaccine mandate reflects a broader trend toward tougher measures, from the White House down, to push Americans who still haven’t been vaccinated to get the shots as the Delta variant ravages the United States .
In much of the country, cases and hospitalizations have reached levels not seen since last winter, and only 51 percent of the population has been vaccinated so far, according to federal data.
Los Angeles, the second most populous city in the US, was one of the hardest hit parts of the country last winter, according to a NewsMadura database. Cases and hospitalizations have risen sharply from their lows earlier this summer, but are still a fraction of their winter peaks.
Los Angeles County issued a no-test option vaccination requirement for its 110,000 employees earlier this month.
Los Angeles City Council chairman Nury Martinez said in an emailed statement that 42 city employees had died from Covid-19 and that demanding vaccinations was the right choice.
“How can we ask Angelenos to get vaccinated if we don’t ask our employees to do so?” said Mrs. Martinez. “No resident should be nervous that the city servant they are dealing with is not vaccinated and endangering their health and potentially life, and no city employee should worry about their colleague getting sick.”
The vaccine mandate ordinance has yet to be signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti to become law, but Harrison Wollman, the mayor’s press secretary, said on Thursday the mayor would sign it soon. Once signed, city employees have until October 19 to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“We must do everything in our power to protect the health and safety of those who keep our city going and the Angelenos who rely on the services they provide every day,” Mr Garcetti said in a statement. “This requirement is the surest way to achieve that and set an example for others to follow.”
The regulation does not yet specify sanctions for employees who do not comply with the rules. Ms. Martinez said the city was negotiating with the many different unions representing city workers about appropriate penalties, but said she hoped it would not include the option of firing workers who do not follow the rules.
Unions across the country are struggling to balance the safety of their workers with their rights in the workplace, and many of them support vaccines but oppose mandates.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, a union representing nearly 10,000 members of the Los Angeles Police Department, said in a statement from its board of directors that the union was “extremely disappointed” with the new rule.